Stocking up on wine
Contrary to what some people think, wine has pretty simple needs: don't cook it and don't freeze it. Beyond that, it can withstand all but the harshest elements. When it comes to creating a wine cellar (it's not as difficult as you may fear), keeping wine happy and healthy is a snap, too. Just as you relax best in your favourite comfy chair, so too wine has its preferred comfort zone.
Many collectors, particularly those in an apartment, condo or even a small house, opt to buy a prefabricated storage unit –- basically a walk-in fridge with wire racks -– with the capacity to store from as few as 20 bottles to as many as 500. Some have glass doors and lighted interiors; others can be designed to fit under a kitchen counter or stand elegantly in the dining room.
However, a properly insulated and air-conditioned room can be constructed from a main-floor closet or spare room in the attic, as long as a few key conditions are met regarding factors like temperature, humidity and light.
Dos and don'ts
Do invest in a good thermometer and a hygrometer, which measures humidity. Maintain a temperature of 10 to 14 degrees C (50 to 57 degrees F). Champagne and white wines prefer to be closest to the floor, where the temperature stays a few degrees cooler; red wines stored on upper shelves are maintained at perfect tasting temperature.
Do set the relative humidity at 60 to 70 per cent. If it's too dry, the cork seals will begin to dry out, allowing air to enter and threaten the integrity of the wine.
Do lay your bottles on their sides to keep the corks in contact with the wine. It only takes about a month for the cork to dry out in a standing bottle. Who needs expensive vinegar?
Don't let wine share its space with apples, onions, aged cheese, old leather shoes, damp rubber boots, gasoline, paint or cleaning fluids, as it absorbs odours easily.
Don't keep your bottles near vibrating washers and dryers, your stereo system or strong light; wine should remain calm and quiet.